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Is working nine to five still how we want to make a living?

13 Aug 2019

Morgan McKinley’s new report shows that the Irish workforce want to move away from traditional working hours.

Modern workforces have diverse needs, but are they recognised by their employers?

New research from Morgan McKinley can help us answer that. The multinational recruiting consultancy’s working hours report, published earlier this month, reflects input from 2,500 Irish-based professionals in sectors such as accounting, financial services, technology, engineering and science.

The report’s main findings show more than half of working professionals wanting to move away from traditional working patterns. Choosing jobs that afford them greater flexibility and the capacity to prioritise commitments outside of their work is a common desire.

Concerns over the traditional working hours of nine to five become clear when, as the report indicates, 75pc of those surveyed are not compensated for overtime, with 72pc citing an excessive workload as the primary reason for working extra hours.

Contemporary working hours

Bryan Hyland, Morgan McKinley’s commercial director, shed light on the importance of modernising working conditions for employees.

“Technology has blurred the walls of the workplace and has meant that traditional office work is not limited to the confines of an office setting. Employees are pushing companies to break down time-and-place work barriers,” Hyland said.

“Recognising that not everybody works in the same way and to the same schedule is fundamental to achieving real workplace diversity – and in driving innovation and entrepreneurship. It is important to recognise that not everyone needs to be in the same place, or even in the same time zone, to deliver a high level of productivity or service.”

Diversity is crucial in the contemporary workplace and the report suggests that revolutionising the length and format of the working day could help boost this.

“To facilitate diversity and inclusion, employers are being driven by the market to offer more creative working solutions to accommodate the talent they require to remain competitive in the employment market,” Hyland added. “For businesses looking to grow and succeed in the future, offering work from home opportunities will be vital to their success. Allowing employees to work remotely can boost productivity, as well as morale.”

Technology versus people

Technology undeniably plays a prominent role in today’s working world, but it is something that isn’t always predictable, noted Hyland. He commended the extent to which technology has facilitated changes so far but also stressed the importance of people challenging traditional patterns.

“While technology offers professionals a greater freedom from their desks, it also shackles them more tightly to their jobs. With so much communication now being technology based, and so many companies now using cloud computing instead of traditional servers, it’s harder than ever to leave the office,” Hyland said.

“Because technology is always around, working professionals are always effectively working. Our survey indicates 65pc of Irish professionals were working overtime on a weekly basis with up to 75pc not compensated for their additional time.

“Since technology is here to stay, it will fall to managers and employees to work out workplace boundaries and expectations regarding when work should begin and end. A worrying trend is the numbers of professionals working through allocated lunch breaks. Our research shows female professionals are less likely to take their full allocated lunch break. On average 12pc of females take no lunch break compared to 6pc of male respondents.”

Looking ahead, Hyland highlighted the benefits of listening to the needs of employees: “The appetite for a four-day work week is growing.

“If you reduce work hours and introduce flexibility around working hours people are able to focus their attention more effectively, they end up producing just as much, often with higher quality and creativity, and they are also more loyal to the organisations that are willing to give them the flexibility to care about their lives outside of work.”

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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